To Yemenites and some East Africans, that seems to be nature's answer to amphetamines. Want to stay awake? Take a bit of khat. Want to lose weight? Take a bit of khat. Just want to feel a speed like up? Take some khat.

Khat (Catha edulis) is a large shrub member of the burning-bush family native to the woods of Ethiopia and its neighbors. While it is not a drug that causes physical dependence, regular users do find that over a period of time a strong level of psychic dependence can develop. Natives chew the young buds, fresh leaves, and stems of the plant, or brew them into a tea which they drink on an everyday basis not unlike the pattern developed by coffee drinkers in the Western World. Any similarity to coffee stops there. Khat can be a lot more dangerous. Khat is a mild central-nervous system stimulant containing cathine, cathidine, cathinine, and a high concentration of vitamin C. The vitamin C helps to minimize some of the adverse effects of the drug

A dose of khat can produce anything from a mildly happy high to a state of hilarity. The user may be talkative and stimulated (due to an increased pulse and respiratory rate), and sense a strong feeling of increased mental clarity. He may also experience some hallucinations as part of the trip.

But It doesn't always happen that way. For some unexplained reason, sometimes the feelings experienced range from dizziness to stomach pain to weariness to depression, or any combination of these. Not a very good trip at all. And, if overdone, the drug can cause a heavy case of tremors, serious loss of appetite, and heart trouble.

Sex goes out the window with this one. Use of khat often severely reduces sexual drive. And don't forget, the drug can be habit-forming. All in all, this is one khat that appears to be something of a dog.